Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles ★★★★★

Completely blown over. Cinema in one of its stylistic essences is about presenting a pattern, and then breaking it to add meaning. Jeanne Dielman presents a pattern so dense and so full. The pattern is not stylistic. Rather it’s Jeanne’s day to day life. Her regimented day to day is in service of her son; caring for him in ways that he is aware of (cooking his dinner, fixing his shoes), and in ways that he is not (engaging in sex work for money). 

We see the days happen as intended for a day and a half. But in these first two days you already feel a suffocation. A sense of Jeanne being forced to take this, and in her silent rituals, a painful but assured acceptance. She has to do it, but she does it her way.

However things start going awry. Potatoes are over cooked. A button is gone. The world that Jeanne and us have been holding on to starts to come crashing down. And now we’re all tumbling into the abyss. The pattern is broken. 

On one hand I come away from this feeling that massive gaping hole formed by the last act, and a strong understanding of Jeanne’s final actions. On the other hand I carry the guilt of an unappreciative son. The Sylvain at the dinner table echoes me as a teen, and hate to admit it but even me right now. 

Akerman’s work is an absolute revelation, I can’t wait to revisit it.

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